The Nationals have made bulking up their starting pitching depth a priority this winter, and last week their search led them to send a top scout to evaluate veteran right-hander Javier Vazquez in a Puerto Rican winter league game, according to a team official.
The Nationals were impressed with how Vazquez pitched and would be interested in signing him to a minor league contract with an “out” – an option for the pitcher to ask for his release by a certain date if not added to the major league active roster.
It is not clear Vazquez would accept such a minor league deal. He may hold out for a major league contract, which would presumably take the Nationals out of the running for his services. The Nationals have one of the strongest rotations in baseball, comprised of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detwiler and Dan Haren. But they want to add a pitcher at the Class AAA level as insurance should they suffer an injury in their rotation.
Vazquez, 36, is making a comeback after he retired following the 2011 season. He had plenty of suitors after that year, but he decided he wanted to spend time with his family. Now, he is open to playing again. Vazquez will try out for several teams during a workout on Friday. WEEI.com reported the Red Sox will attend the workout.
Over a 14-year career, Vazquez went 165-160 with a 4.22 ERA. In his final season, he went 13-11 with a 3.69 ERA for the Florida Marlins. He showed he still had plenty left, striking out 7.6 batters per nine innings while walking just 2.3
As far as internal candidates to add rotation depth, Tanner Roark is one internal candidate who could push to be considered a potential reinforcement. Roark, acquired from the Rangers for Christian Guzman, went 6-17 at Syracuse last season. But he posted a 4.39 ERA with 7.9 strikeouts and 2.9 walks per nine innings.